Ecotourism, Virtual Museums and Real Decisions

At home more people are walking, biking, hiking and camping, giving that segment of the economy a boost. While visits to museums are non-existent or severely limited during the pandemic, exhibits, tours and interactive activities have moved online for world-wide access. Ecotourism addresses questions surrounding sustainability, benefits and drawbacks, conservation and survival. People need updates to make real decisions.

In 2020 indoor arts, entertainment and dining as well as travel suffered an economic hit. At the same time, sales of bicycles, outdoor camping and sports equipment and guides surged. As people realized the pandemic would require diligence and distance from others, they looked for new avenues of expression and time with family.


The Washington Post Going Out Guide reflects the adjustments being made by businesses and locals. Each guide compiles the best things to do — virtually and in person — while social distancing in the D.C. area. The need for updates on openings and closings has become an important part of spur-of-the-moment or weekly planning. Our Think Like a Reporter activity gives students the guidelines to prepare and find updates. People seek take out and home delivery, baking and cooking guidance, and online options.


While some large museums have begun to open with timed reservations and reduced entries, most are only accessed through expanded online exhibits and new uses of technology. A Post museum review and our student activity, Explore Museums Online, give educators many opportunities to send students into the world’s great collections.


Travellers are eager to take planned trips or to go to places they have been reading about. The travel industry is witnessing greater interest in ecotourism and green excursions. We provide a resource guide of articles and activities to discover the benefits and conflicts in green travel. Students can also debate whether preserves and conservation areas and their inhabitants can survive without ecotourism. The inevitable battle between business opportunities and preservation of land and its inhabitants is exemplified in Brazil. Some very real decisions must be made.


March 2021

Think Green, Be Sustainable
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Get Out the Going Out Guide
Art, Health, Journalism, Social Science, Science

Ask students about their outside activities. Is their time spent taking walks, visiting parks and gardens or playing? Do they join a pod for outdoor gatherings or spend family times discovering new plants and animals — observing, taking photographs or drawing? Where do they learn about D.C.-Area current activities that can be done at a safe distance?


Give students Where to Find D.C. Area Activities and Travel Advice. Use the print, e-Replica and online editions to locate each of these Washington Post resources. The three suggested activities could be done individually or in groups.


Why Do We Need Museums?
Art, Broadcast Journalism, Business, Career Education, Economy, Science, Technology, Visual Arts

Museums are small, local attractions or major international destinations like the two million square feet of space and hundreds of galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A museum dedicated to farm implements and crops of a region may get 100 visitors a week; a museum that covers centuries of art, culture and civilizations may welcome an average of 1,000 visitors per hour.


Have your students been to a museum or zoo? When, where and which kind? What kind of museum is most appealing to students? Art, history, science, anthropology, technology? Interactive or with artifacts? With docents leading groups or free to explore independently? Museums are thinking about this generation and their future.

According to the American Alliance of Museums, museums support 726,000 jobs across the country and contribute $50 billion to the economy each year. When visitors are barred from entry, museums face financial and ethical dilemmas. If students ran a museum, how would they handle the current situation?

• Would they be cleaning, and perhaps moving, exhibits? Can this be done while maintaining a safe distance between workers?

• Who would be considered essential to maintain the facility and exhibits?

• How will they fund feeding and care of animals without admission fees?

• Of the U.S. institutions planning to reopen, about 40 percent will do so with reduced staff, an AAM survey found. Who would they release during the shut-down? Who would need to be rehired?

• Why do we value museums?


Discover Virtual Museums
Art, Broadcast Journalism, Business, Economy, Science, Technology, Visual Arts

Art, anthropology, science and technology are all available in online museum offerings. Take a tour of the British Natural History Museum with Sir. David Attenborough, join online events and exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum and participate in family interactives at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. to experience the diversity.

Give students Explore Museums Online. Five suggested activities introduce different approaches that can be taken to engage online visitors. Students might also work in pairs to explore the listed museums and prepare a guided tour to introduce their classmates to some inviting works and features.


Practice Seeing
Art, Visual Arts

As museums and galleries look to post-pandemic life, they are brainstorming ways to engage the next generation — both online and in person. Listen to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge Come to Life. What do students think of the audio tour to learn about an artist and his work?


Students may continue with audio tours of “The Sights and Sounds of Seurat” and “Tune In to Boccioni’s Futuristic Frontier.” These are very different schools of art. Note that the voice-over does more than read the printed text. After discussion of each work, students may write additional commentary in this brief pairing of art and textual information.


Students may be assigned a project to create an audio tour for a work of art — either a well-known work, that of a favorite artist or one of their own creations. This could be a team effort with each member writing text, selecting visual and preparing the PowerPoint or other program for presentation.


Review an Exhibit
Art, English, Journalism, Visual Arts

Practice Seeing activity may be used as a step toward writing a longer review of an exhibit or work of art. Likewise, #3 of Where to Find D.C. Area Activities and Travel Advice is based on the beginning of a review of the math-based sculptures of Anton Bakker.


Read and discuss with students “Miss visiting museums? Engaging with art on a small phone screen can actually be rewarding.” This review of four exhibitions, tour of the Great Hall and the virtual interactions with works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is also a review of the limits and benefits of visit by cellphone.


Students may be asked to visit and write a review of an online exhibit. With students establish the requirements of the review.

Virtual Museum Tours
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Hike, Bike, Walk?
Business, Health, Journalism, Social Studies

Sales of bicycles have surged in 2020. Some families have dusted off old bicycles or found hiking gear. Even they have helped parts of the health industry grow.

• Have your students been more involved in hiking, biking or walking activities?

• What do they know about peddle bikes and e-bikes?


Read and discuss “Camping is back, with fewer people and activities and more cleaning and waiting.”

Discuss other businesses that could benefit from this outdoor activity trend.

Teachers may share the Post Travel article, “ Sales of camping, hiking guides rise as Americans take to the outdoors.”  Read and discuss the February 2021 “More biking, fewer trains: Survey examines the pandemic’s effects on mobility in the D.C. region.” Questions would include:

• What percent of your students would prefer to continue distance learning? A mix of in-school and at-home learning? Total return to the classroom at school?

• How do your students commute to school? Do they plan to continue the same transportation mode?

• To what extent do your families reflect the findings of the survey regarding transportation?


Contrast Walks on a Michigan Lakeshore
English, Journalism, Photojournalism, Reading

In a lost year, a new lens on life” encourages observation skills while walking with a camera. Compare and contrast the online Travel photo essay with the print essay of the same title in the print March 14, 2021, Travel section, using the e-Replica format.

Discussion could include

• Text and perspective that are the same

• Details that enhance or contribute to understanding the photographs

• Effect on tone and mood of the legend of the origin of Sleeping Bear


Be Ethical
Career Education, Ethics, Journalism, Media Arts


The code of ethics of professional journalists requires that they be fair and unbiased in their reporting. This usually means reporters and photojournalists do not cover businesses and events in which they have personal involvement. An example of a reporter failing to be transparent and fully disclosing involvements is found in Paul Farhi’s March 4, 2021, beat article, “David Brooks of New York Times criticized for undisclosed financial ties to project he praised.”

Farhi begins:

The tenets of journalism hold that writers aren’t supposed to have a vested interest in the topics they cover — but that if they do, they need to disclose it to the public.

David Brooks appears to have fallen short of those principles. The veteran New York Times opinion columnist didn’t mention to his readers that he has had a side gig writing for a project funded by Facebook and other donors. Brooks has written favorably about the project, and about Facebook, without disclosing his personal financial connection.

• Ask students why journalists should disclose any vested interests in topics they cover or not cover them at all?

• Does the same principle apply to a newspaper, yearbook or student media reporter who plays a school or club sport? Should they write the stories about those activities?


Think Like a Reporter
Ethics, Journalism, Media Arts, Research

On March 3, 2021, The Post gave readers an update in “National Gallery, Smithsonian take slower approach to reopening, while some D.C. museums start welcoming visitors back.” Discuss the content. For whom would these be relevant? Why would media provide updates?


Give students Think Like a Reporter | Update Your Readers. Read and cover the guidelines given for updating a story. Three informative articles are provided for students to apply the guidelines. They are given suggested steps to take in order to update each of the three. This may be done individually or in groups, completing one update each or all three.

• June 11, 2020: “Appalachian Trail reopens to day-trippers but urges thru-hikers to stay home

• June 5, 2020: “Camping is back, with fewer people and activities and more cleaning and waiting”

• May 18, 2017: “What is ‘green travel,’ anyway? A beginner’s guide to eco-friendly vacation planning.” Teachers will find that “Partnering to help travelers go greener” is an update of the 2017 article. If you have limited time, you might have students read the 2017 article, discuss the steps to update it, and then read this March 7, 2021, article to see how well it updates the original article.

Actual and Virtual Diversions

Explore Green Places Online
Business, Economics, Environmental Science, Journalism, Technology

For background information, teachers could begin with reading “What is ‘green travel,’ anyway? A beginner’s guide to eco-friendly vacation planning.”


To introduce concepts of sustainable and ecotourism, students could become familiar with the following four green destinations as well as the content and technology used to present information about them. Locate each country on a map. See who can be first to use the website to find what qualifies each to be a top green destination.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia



Maramures, Romania — one of National Geographic’s top ecotourism destinations

Teachers may move to the next activity to define sustainable communities and ecotourism goals.


What Does it Take to Be a Sustainable Community?
Biology, Botany, Business, Economy, Environmental Science, Government, Social Studies

The Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) is an “international, science-based, third-party certification program that guides communities through a customized journey to become healthy and vibrant places in which to live, work, and play. That vision is founded in the three pillars of sustainability: a healthy local environment, quality of life for citizens, and economic vitality.”

• Compare and contrast the standards and guidelines for sustainability and ecotourism certified.

• Are sustainable communities the same as certified ecotourism communities and places?


Learn Ecotourism Standards
Business, Economics, Environmental Science, Ethics, Geography, Government

Review the International Ecotourism Society standards that must be met to be certified. Discuss with students why having and enforcing such standards are important for all stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders?

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.


 What Is the Balance in Ecotourism?
Biology, Business, Economics, Environmental Science, Geography

In a KidsPost article (“Jaguar release is a step to saving the species in Argentina”) and

Post Travel article (“Halt in ecotourism threatens conservation efforts worldwide”) international actions and concerns about animals are covered. Find the countries on the map and discuss what students know about these habitats. Questions for discussion are included with the KidsPost article.

• In what ways do conservation parks and reserves meet the standards of sustainable communities?

• What are the benefits of ecotourism?

• What requirements of ecotourism may require special attention in order to do no or little harm?

• How have ecotourism businesses met the challenges of the pandemic?


Battle to Maintain Eco-tourism Standards
Biology, Business, Economics, Environmental Science, Geography, Government

Teachers may introduce students to South America’s largest country — Brazil.

It has natural beauty and resources, indigenous people and pristine rainforests, a government that supports business interests. Its tourism potential and ecotourism success confront each other.


Give students Green Future or Economic Paradise? Activity. It is introduced through the village of Alter Do Chao, Brazil. Read and discuss the opening paragraphs of The Post’s “ They say they’re firefighters. Police say they’re arsonists. The battle for truth reaches the Amazon.” For additional background, students could be asked to read the entire article and discuss the economic, environmental and political story.


Continue with the activity. The longer article is divided into sections with questions that are focused on content and the author’s structure/organizational plan for conveying the challenges and confrontations in Fernando de Noronha. This should provide effective practice in close reading and a model for the comparison/contrast organizational strategy.



Post NIE Guide Editor | Carol Lange

Post NIE Guide Art Editor | Donna McCullough

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In The Know 

Economy The large set of inter-related production, consumption, and exchange of activities that aid in determining how scarce resources are allocated. The system in one’s country of producing, buying and selling goods.
Ecosystem A geographic area where plants, animals and other organisms, as well as weather and landscapes, work together to form a bubble of life. Every factor in an ecosystem depends on every other factor, either directly or indirectly.
Ecotourism Term coined by Mexican architect Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in 1983. He described it: Tourism that involves traveling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects found in these areas. Ecotourism implies a scientific, esthetic, or philosophical approach, although the ‘ecotourist’ is not required to be a professional scientist, artist, or philosopher. The main point is that the person who practices ecotourism has the opportunity of immersing him or herself in nature in a way that most people cannot enjoy in their routine, urban existences. This person will eventually acquire a consciousness and knowledge of the natural environment, together with its cultural aspects, that will convert him into somebody keenly involved in conservation issues”
Green travel Environmentally-conscious travel; sustainable travel 

Making false claims or embellishing advertising of one’s Earth-friendly achievements


Overtourism  Tourism that harms communities by overuse or destruction of resources through overcrowding

Done using computer technology over the internet, and not involving people physically going somewhere; such as a meeting, a tour of a museum or other location


Virtual reality An artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one's actions partially determine what happens in the environment
District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

The District of Columbia has adopted the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, DCPS has adopted new learning standards in arts, health and physical education, science, social studies, technology and world languages.


Social Studies. Geographic Skills.

7. Students study current events to explain how human actions modify the physical environment and how the physical environment affects human systems (e.g., natural disasters, climate, and resources). They explain the resulting environmental policy issues.

8. Students explain how different points of view influence policies relating to the use and management of Earth’s resources.


Social Studies. Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations



Academic Content Standards may be found at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Science. Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards .01

1) Environmental Issue Investigation and Action. Environmentally literate students investigate environmental issues in order to develop and implement local actions that protect, sustain or restore the natural environment.

3) Environmental Impact of Human Activity. Environmentally literate students construct and apply understanding of the environmental impact of human activities on Earth’s systems and resources.

4) Consequences of Environmental Change on Human Health and Well-Being. Environmentally literate students construct and apply understanding of the consequences of human-induced environmental change on individual and collective health and well-being.


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Environmental Science. The student will investigate and understand that resource use is complex. Key ideas include

a)   global resource use has environmental liabilities and benefits;

b)  availability, renewal rates, and economic effects are considerations when using resources;

d) all energy sources have environmental and economic effects. (ES.6)


Economics and Personal Finanance. The student will demonstrate knowledge of basic economic concepts and structures by

a) describing how consumers, businesses, and government decision makers face scarcity of resources and must make trade-offs and incur opportunity costs;

b) explaining that choices often have long-term unintended consequences;

c) describing how effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs (marginal costs) and additional benefits (marginal benefits);

d) identifying factors of production;

e) comparing the characteristics of market, command, tradition, and mixed economies; (EPF.1)


English. The student will read, interpret, analyze, and evaluate nonfiction texts.

a)   Analyze text features and organizational patterns to evaluate the meaning of texts.

b)   Recognize an author’s intended audience and purpose for writing.

c)   Skim materials to develop an overview and locate information.

d)   Compare and contrast informational texts for intent and content.

e)   Interpret and use data and information in maps, charts, graphs, timelines, tables, and diagrams.

f)   Draw conclusions and make inferences on explicit and implied information using textual support as evidence.

g)   Analyze and synthesize information in order to solve problems, answer questions, and generate new knowledge.

h)   Analyze ideas within and between selections providing textual evidence.

i)    Summarize, paraphrase, and synthesize ideas, while maintaining meaning and a logical sequence of events, within and between texts.  (10.5)


Visual Arts. History, Culture, and Citizenship. The student will understand historical and cultural influences of art. (A11.6)

a)     Identify diverse historical and contemporary artists and artworks.

b)    Examine and discuss social, political, economic, and cultural factors that influence works of art and design.

c)     Investigate how art and design can be viewed from a variety of personal, cultural, and historical perspectives.

The student will identify ways that art can be used to address community needs. (A11.7)


Academic Content Standards may be found at

Common Core Standards 

Language. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.



Language. L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


Reading: Informational Text. RI.9-10.8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.



Common Core standards may be found at